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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The UF men's tennis team will be spread across the nation starting today and throughout the rest of the weekend.

Senior Greg Ouellette, the only player to qualify for the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships, will begin play today in Columbus, Ohio.

Eight other Gators will compete at the Florida State Invitational in Tallahassee.

Each tournament brings unique challenges for the players.

No. 10 Ouellette is coming back from an ankle injury that he suffered a few weeks ago, which sidelined him at the ITA Regional Indoor Qualifying.

At last year's tournament, he lost a close first-round match before advancing to the quarterfinal round of the consolation draw. This year, he won't have much time to get back in the swing of things.

"I wouldn't call him 100 percent, but he's getting better and he's eager to play," UF coach Andy Jackson said. "He hasn't played a whole lot, so his first match is going to be hard because he's going to be a little bit rusty."

More challenges will arise for the Gators in Tallahassee, where they will field five freshmen.

Jackson said this tournament will only help the younger players by giving them more experience, especially since it's on the road.

"Hopefully they will get to play a Florida State guy to sort of see what it's like to be a Gator in Tallahassee, which makes you grow up in a hurry," he said.

Jackson said this event will also help prepare his team for future road tests, including early challenges in the spring season at Miami and Baylor.

"These guys are very talented, but at this level it's not always about talent," he said. "It's about some other stuff that you have to learn. You can't learn it until you go do it a few times."

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Jackson has seen steady improvements from the freshmen in practice, and he'll use the tournaments this weekend to see where his team stands.

These tournaments will wrap up the fall season for the Gators, but preparation for spring play will continue.

"It is a crucial two-month period after this tournament this weekend," Jackson said.

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